I love New Year’s, primarily because I love making plans. I basically live in the shame spiral of self-critique (did I do enough today? Why did I read that/ eat that/ watch that/ neglect that?) (Yes, I know that’s not healthy, and that attitude of self-critique also plays into that shame spiral. Fun!) But New Year’s is a chance to look at all that and turn the page. To think about where you are and where you want to be, and to plan the journey. While during the year my decisions for the future always carry some sense of propitiation (I did this yesterday, so therefore I have to [begin panic breathing] do this today), I don’t feel like that at New Year’s. I just get to enjoy the feeling of time, of this space stretching out in front of me that I can fill with all the things that are important to me.
One of my favorite things to plan in the new year is what I’m going to read. I’ve set and hit my goal of 100 books pretty regularly since I’ve been recording my reading, so for the past few years it’s been more about how I’m dividing up that number. It’s like creating a syllabus for yourself: I get to identify what is important to me, what I want to learn, and make that happen.
My favorite reading plan so far has been in 2012. (I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that I had a little more time for things like this before grad school started!) In 2012, I chose a major work or author to focus on each month–after that, I could read whatever, but in January I read Les Miserables, in February I read Anna Karenina (seemed appropriate), in April I read a bunch of Wharton, in May I read The Count of Monte Cristo… all books I’d never read before, and that I felt that any self-respecting literature student (and eventual teacher) should have under his or her fabulous belt. It was a little intense (some of those books are crazy long!) but well worth it. I pushed myself to finish books and research (learned more about the aftermath of the revolution in French society than I knew there was to know) and I would never have gotten that much done had it not been for the goals I set.
So I believe in goals. They help me accomplish things. Otherwise, I’d just lie around rereading my favorite books, and, while I would indeed benefit from yet another reading of Possession or Gaudy Night (and chances are, those will get read this year too) at least this way maybe I’ll find a few new favorites too.
2015 Book Goals:
Read 100 books (obviously). Of those, this breakdown:
- Read 100 short stories (which will count for 10 novels).
- 10 biographies or memoirs (Colette, Tina Fey, Beauvior, Strayed)
- 10 nonfiction (heavy on Victorian society, maybe another Bill Bryson?)
- 10 critical theory (desire, death, supernatural, gothic, gender) (my life in a nutshell!)
- 20 canonical or should-be canonical novels (2 Dickens, 2 Wilkie Collins, 1 Victor Hugo, 2 other sensation novels… some mid-20th century? Booker short list? something in translation?)
- 40 free choice (Reread Harkness? Reread Glen Duncan? Finish Byatt’s Fredricka novels?)
Goals beyond book choices:
- Read actively. With a pen in hand. Make notes. (At least for everything but novels.) (Maybe novels?)
- Write about what I’ve read. Every single book. And be a little more critical, a little less adoring. Weekly/Monthly blog section?
And those are my plans for the upcoming year. And you? Any great and glorious reading plans for the new year? Do tell!